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From Davis Inlet to Natuashish: New homes, same old problems

The Story

It was supposed to be a fresh start but the problems remain the same. Broken windows, grafitti-covered walls and busted doors deface the homes in Natuashish. The familiar haze of alcoholism, domestic violence and solvent abuse has descended upon the community. When asked what happened to a community that was once so full of hope, Natuashish Chief Simeon Jacobish gets defensive as heard in this radio interview. Chief Jacobish points his finger at the RCMP and accuses the government of not doing its job. "I'm sick and tired of this treatment... I'm not responsible for all the kids." 

Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Oct. 7, 2003
Guest: Simeon Jacobish

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti
Duration: 7:54

Did You know?

• Both Chief Simeon Jacobish and his rival Jim Nui admitted that they wooed voters with alcohol in the February 2002 election. That same month, three of four band council members were in court facing criminal charges ranging from impaired driving to sexual assault and arson.

• In April 2003 Jacobish quit his job, blaming stress for his poor health.

• Former chief of Davis Inlet Katie Rich told the CBC that the Innu were at fault for the dramatic increase in gas sniffing. "In broad daylight, we see children sniffing and none of the adults... we don't do anything," said Rich, "We are lazy."

• RCMP Acting Corporal John Letourneau, based in Natuashish, told the National Post in May 2003 that the acts of vandalism "have been pervasive and ongoing" from the start. "Most of the community's 200 children have avoided their new $13-million school and have found other ways to occupy their time," said Letourneau.

• A 2004 report commissioned by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, on the education of Labrador Innu children painted a bleak picture. The report, An Educational Profile of the Learning Needs of Innu Youth, obtained by the CBC, detailed major failures in the education system of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu. According to the report:
- 35 per cent of children studied were found to have fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Only one in three children ever attended school and of those most never made it to high school.
- Between 1993 and 2004, just three students in the Labrador Innu community completed high school.


Davis Inlet: Innu Community in Crisis more